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Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge 18 June 2017

Here is my contribution to this week’s Odd Ball challenge

Warthogs are odd at the best of times.  Some say they’re ugly having a face that only a mother could love – but I think they’re cute and adorable.  Really- is there anything sweeter than these two courting piglets?

041 Warthog in love

Look at that sublime expression

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Wild Adventure Chapter 10 Last day at Rooiputs

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12 March

“What will today, hold in store for us, I  wonder?” said Lady Grum-Peigh as they climbed into the Land Rover for their morning drive.  “It’s our last day at Rooiputs and boy, I’m going to miss it!”
They headed straight to Kij Kij arriving around 7 ish.  “Oh look there!” called the Earl. “Two male lions!”  That was a wonderful surprise. They were lying a little way off from the waterhole, one on each side of the road.

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One of the big boys

Suddenly Mr Frend-Leigh started his Pathfinder and raced toward them.  “It’s a brown hyena,” said the Earl excitedly. And they weaved through the parked cars to get a better view.  But the poor creature was spooked by seeing the lions and instead of going for his morning drink he headed away and up a dune.

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Oh no! What are those two doing here.  I’m off!

Then the lions were up and making their way to the waterhole as if to say – hey – nobody drinks from here but us!

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After the lions had had a good long drink they moved off into the shade and settled down for a long morning nap. The G-Ps and Leighs went on towards Melkvlei.

“What’s moving over there – oh great – Bat-eared fox!”

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Posing for his portrait at last

One of the foxes stopped and stared straight at them. “At last you’re posing for me, you elusive creature,” said Lady G-P who had seen a few but not managed to get any decent photographs.

There was a lot of game about and they saw many kori bustards and jackals.   “That eagle looks different,” called the Earl

“It’s a tawny,” said Lady Peigh “The blond version!”

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At Melkvlei Lord Peigh cooked a delicious Banting Breakfast but the Leighs continued on a bit further preferring to have muesli in the car a little later. They also had a lot of packing up to do so would return to the lions and then head home.

After breakfast the Grum-Peighs took a slow drive and enjoyed all the usual game and birds.   Then about 1 km from Rooiputs the Earl said, “Look at those gemsbok.  They’re standing stock still – there must be a predator somewhere close.”  They scanned the dunes with their binoculars – Nada.  Then her ladyship dropped her eye to a lower level and nearly fell out of the window – “They’re right there,” she whispered “under the tree.”

“What? where?” whined his Lordship.

“They’re so well camouflaged – three cheetahs – in the shade just where the gemsbok are standing.”

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A very wary gemsbok keeps a close eye on the cheetahs

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One lifts her head to see what all the fuss is about

His lordship finally finds them and is amazed at how well they could hide.

At about 5 that afternoon they returned to the spot with the Frend-Leighs.  They were on the move and then they flopped down under a tree.  They stayed with them hoping they would get up to go to the waterhole but they had to leave at quarter to 7 to get in before dark.

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Thinking about getting up

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I could do with a drink

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I love you dear cheetah

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They returned to camp and Mrs Frend-Leigh took out the leftover chili con cairn and they shared the meal with Jan.  Everything was packed up as far as possible for departure to Mata Mata the next morning and then they turned in for the night.

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Wild Adventure Chapter 6 Lions at Kij Kij

8 March

The advantage of staying in a bush camp on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is that there are fewer people in camp and one really gets to commune with nature – it’s living on the edge as there is always a chance that a wild creature could wander past your caravan or tent.  This is what the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs love about Camp Rooiputs Number 2.   It is also closer to the water holes so you get to them before the crowds from Twee Rivieren arrive.  But Rooiputs has the added advantage of being close enough to Twee Rivieren so that when you need to replenish your stocks it’s a quick trip there and back.  On this particular morning the friends decide to check out the Kij Kij Waterhole nice and early and then take the long dune road that connects to another road that takes you to TR.  The plan is then to leave the park and shop at the Kgalagadi Lodge shop – and have breakfast at their restaurant.  There is nothing as good as mixing a bit of rustic living with luxury now and then!

And they are well rewarded when they get to Kij Kij and find some frolicking lions.

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Good Morning Kgalagadi

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This is fun!

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Come on let’s play!

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Time to go!

The Dune Road is very long and bendy and can be boring but today a honey badger rushed over the road in front of them and they saw 19 Northern Black Korhaan

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The best of the bunch

On the return journey the Grum-Peighs stop for every bird.  Ho-Hum!

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A lesser grey shrike

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The ever-present tawny eagle

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Southern Masked weaver and Lark-like Bunting

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Male and female red-headed finch

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Grey-backed sparrowlark

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Male red-headed finch

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Immature Pale Chanting Goshawk

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Jackal

The highlight was seeing a cobra try to invade a sociable weaver nest.

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In the evening the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs had another delicious braai.  There was no sign of stormy weather and the sunset was magnificent.

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The Earl and The Friend bonding in front of the fire

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Sunset

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Camp Rooiputs Number 2 at night

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ADDO ELEPHANT PARK

Homestead B&B and Caravan Park is just a few minutes away from the Addo Elephant Park entrance gate.  The site provides excellent shade and the ablutions and facilities are adequate and clean.  We paid R200 per night.   If you can’t get into the Addo Rest Camp this is an excellent alternative.  They also have Bed and Breakfast facilities.  I forgot to take photographs but rest assured it is great!
We set off for a game drive at about 3:30.  What a great afternoon we had.   The weather was stunning – clear skies and quite hot.   It was great to see plenty of the game grazing on the hillsides and in the veld. There is no shortage of warthogs, red hartebeest, kudu and zebra.  And it’s certainly the place to go if you want to see elephants.

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The buffalo are fat and healthy and the favourite food of the lions

We found that most of the animals were in the South of the park and that the elephants had spread out and could be seen at most of the waterholes.   In the heat of the day they were enjoying themselves in the red muddy holes along with their little friends the warthogs who seem so tiny when seen right next to these gentle giants.

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We left via the South Gate and then had a long drive back to camp but it was worth it.  On the way we found a number of delightful birds.

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The common but very pretty Cape Glossy Starling

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Always friendly – the African Pipit

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The red-faced mousebird seldom sits still long enough for a photoshoot so I was delighted to get a reasonable shot of him

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And he obliged to pose with his cousin the speckled mousebird

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The Southern Boubou tends to hide but he was quite conspicuous on this day

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Not just a pretty face but pretty feathers too has the emerald-spotted wood-dove

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A Bird of Prey that has me foxed

The evening was warm enough to sit outdoors without a jacket and we enjoyed a braai of ostrich steak and sausage.

We were up before six the next morning and in at the gate by 7.  Unfortunately when you are a day visitor you may only enter at 7 so miss the early 6 o’clock opening to the game area.

It is definitely better to stay in the park as you can then easily go back to your camp for a break in the middle of a hot day.   We took our breakfast break at Jack’s Picnic Site which is named after Jack the Black Rhino who was one of the first to be brought to Addo. He was kept in the enclosure which is now the picnic site. It has a security gate and well looked after, clean ablutions.  The picnic areas are also secluded and shady.

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Muesli and Yogurt followed by crackers and olive paste with a cup of coffee at Jack’s

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Cape Robin-chat came to check us out but did not like our food.

The bokmakierie is a common resident in the park and showed himself to us quite a few times.

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Such a pretty bird

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Plenty of these guys in the park

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And aren’t the zebra gorgeous

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At lunch time we went to the Cattle Baron in the Rest Camp   The food was good. I had a chicken salad with a generous amount of grilled chicken strips, greens, tomato and avo and Earl had seared chicken and Camembert with a salad which was delicious.   Cost – Around R190 altogether including a glass of wine and 2 beers.

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You may alight from your vehicle at certain viewpoints

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But entirely at your own risk!

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The warthogs are so amusing

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A nice muddy bath will do the trick

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And even the Dung Beetles are fascinating

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Elephants love the glorious mud

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The babies are adorable and so well cared for by the moms, aunts and sisters

Before lunch we came upon a traffic jam and were told that there was a lion under a tree – I managed to glimpse it but encouraged Earl to move on and come back later as all it was going to do was sleep for a few hours and it was not worth fighting for a good viewing spot.

When we returned at about 4ish we saw elephants at the nearby waterhole and quite a few cars were parked watching them.   Suddenly Earl called – “There’s the lion,” and toward the elephants a lion stealthily crept.

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Lions will not drink at the waterhole alongside ellies as they’re afraid of them – for good reason.   She soon dropped down behind a bush and then we spotted two others.  The elephants were well aware of them and some decided to leave but two remained for ages.  One of the younger lions quickly came down and took a few sips and then ran off as fast as she could.   We thought she might grab an unsuspecting warthog but he saw in in time and ran for his little life.

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The warthog is unaware of the pending danger

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But she justs wants a drink

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She is the only one of the lions brave enough to sneak a sip or two while the giants ignore her.

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Only when they leave do the others come down to drink

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This one was the last to arrive from the opposite direction and she was wearing a collar

We left the park at about 5 and it was a short drive to camp.   The evening was even hotter than the previous night so we once again sat outdoors in shorts and t-shirt.  Quite a difference from our evenings at Warmwaterberg and Buffalo Bay!

We packed up to leave early this morning with the intention of a stop-over at George or Gouritz but we decided in the end to press on and arrived home at half past three.  It was a good week away!

 

 

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#NaBloPoMo 21 – A Wet Day in Addo

NaBloPoMo

Who would believe that we would have rain in Addo Elephant Park in November!  It was so hot on our arrival day but now it is cold and wet!  But this has not dampened our enjoyment of being in the bush.  We are not diehards but we certainly make a plan to make things more comfortable.  Thank Goodness I thought to pack some warm clothes.

It rained throughout last night and was still raining this morning so we stayed in bed a little later – no point rushing out in the cool of the day as the whole day would be cool!  It let up enough to make a hearty breakfast and while Earl was preparing he had a demanding visitor.

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This cheeky fork-tailed drongo asked to share our breakfast

It seems that butter is a delicacy enjoyed both by the drongo and the weavers. Before Earl could stop the drongo he’d taken off with the butter from the egg pan!

After rescuing our breakfast from the birds we sat down to eat and then set off to explore. It rained on and off the entire day!

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Mr Kudu was the first to greet us

We saw elephants frequently and I will just show a few of the special ones here

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King of the road was this bull leisurely strolling towards us and not given a damn about the cars. This is taken through the windscreen

 

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Don’t worry he was really friendly

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He could have put his trunk right through the window but he was more interested in eating his lunch

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He uses his trunk with such skill

Of course the warthogs have the run of the park and we saw plenty of them.

We also got up close and personal with red hartebeest and zebra.

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The babies are adorable

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In spite of the rain the plains were full of game

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The zebra were in playful mood

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And quite affectionate toward each other

The birding was most rewarding – they did not seem to mind the rain.

 

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Glossy starlings made many appearances

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Two beautiful spotted thick-knees

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An orange throated longclaw posed like a model

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Of course he is a handsome chap!

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A red-necked spurfowl showed off her chicks

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The hyperactive stonechat was hard to get but finally he sat still and obliged me with a half decent photograph

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The resident Jackal Buzzard shows he’s just as handsome as the visiting steppe buzzard

We exited the south gate and went to the little village of Colchester   just outside the park to do a bit of shopping and had lunch at Taste of Africa – a chicken salad that lacked imagination!

We arrived back at camp at 4 o’clock.  We had every intention of doing a braai for supper as the rain had stopped but by  5 it was raining again so we opted for dinner at the restaurant.  Our venison hotpot was served with mash, butternut and spinach and was to die for!

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Early looking surprised at the excellent food

We’re having trouble with our portable wireless devise so might not be able to do a blog post tomorrow but hopefully I’ll be able to use my phone or Earl’s tablet as a hotspot – depends on how much data is left!

But now I will be going to sleep with the sound of rain on canvas – I do so love my offroad caravan!

 

 

 

 

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#NaBloPoMo 20 – Lions and more@ Addo

NaBloPoMo

It was the call of the fiery-necked nightjar calling loudly that woke me at a rude hour this morning.  I lay listening to The Good Lord Deliver Us over and over again before reluctantly climbing out of bed and heading to the showers.  Good thing too – because it was already light and gate opening was at 5:30.  We made it to the gate by 5:45.

The weather was somewhat cooler but still warm enough for shorts and t-shirt but I took along a jersey for when the windows were open.  Our first bird of the morning was this summer visitor from Eastern Europe

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Although the steppe buzzards breeds in Eastern Europe they migrate to Southern Africa in summer arriving in October and leaving in April

Another non-breeding summer migrant is the barn swallow

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These birds start arriving in September and the last ones leave in April

An intra-African migrant Lesser Striped swallow greeted us early this morning.

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Lesser Striped Swallow – present in South Africa from July to March

The Southern Masked weaver is a common resident in South Africa and is not too shy to pose for a portrait.  They can become quite tame and frequent campsites in the hope that they pick up a snack or two from the friendly humans.

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How those vicious thorns don’t stab them I do not know.

As we drive around the reserve we frequently hear – Willie – come out and fight – scared.  Or that is what the field guides tell us the Sombre bulbul is saying.  But I think it sounds more like. Look out – you can’t find me – whaaaaa.  But today we did find him – right out in the open too.

Another one who calls out loudly and likes to hide is the very pretty little Diderick Cuckoo.   Today Earl found him trying to camouflage in the foliage.

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The male cuckoo is very good looking – but he and his wife don’t raise their own chicks.  The female chooses a variety of hosts including the southern masked weaver, red bishop, Cape sparrow and Cape wagtail. She lays up to 20 eggs per season so that’s a lot of surrogate mothers she has to find!

It is important to get out into the park early if you want to see predators. Lions are lazy and sleep in a shady spot most of the day.  Today we found two large males at Carol’s Rest and they were just lying there – awake and just staring into the distance.

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Lions Rule

Red Hartebeest, zebra and kudu were waiting, dead still, over the road on the hillside, very aware of the enemy and too scared to come down to drink.

We parked off, had breakfast and drank our coffee while we waited to see if anything would happen.  Warthogs have to be the bravest and cheekiest of animals.  The appeared from the other side of the waterhole so did not consult with the herbivores on the hillside.  They boldly approached their kings and I wondered how the conversation went.

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Please, Your Majesty, may I go down to drink?

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Now let me think – I’ll check with my brother

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NO!  Get out of here or we’ll have you for breakfast!

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The cheek of those subjects!

You would think the others would learn from the warties – but no – all of a sudden a herd of donkeys in prison clothes came racing across the road – then stood dead still in front of their sovereign.

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We’re just out of jail and very thirsty – May we have a drink please sire?

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Oh sure – if you want to be steak!

So they turned tail and headed back to the hill.

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They have to leave some time – we’ll just have to wait!

We watched these antics for over an hour and then decided to head back to camp.

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We were thrilled to find two meerkats – but only one photograph is worth posting.

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Life is good in Addo Elephant Park

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Jackals are usually on a mission but this one must have had a tough night as he is settling for a nap

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I’m watching you – please leave me in peace.

Back at camp we decided to follow the jackals example and have a nap before going out in search of more game later in the afternoon.

It was 3 pm when we set off again and I have to eat my words about summer reaching the Eastern Cape ahead of us.  A cold front sneaked up, strong winds blew and the heavens clouded over.   It is calmer as I type but freezing cold!   It will probably rain in the night.

Anyway this did not dampen our spirits and we had an enjoyable game drive.  Surprisingly there we saw no elephants until the very end.

It was great to see a black-shouldered kite

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A greater double-collared sunbird posed and sang for us.

And finally at Hapoor we found a small herd of elephants

We decided to do a small potjie over the fire for tonight’s dinner

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And just to make our day a bushbuck came to visit

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